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Infoplease - This Day in History 

Dec 20, 1803: The United States purchased the Louisiana territory from France for $15 million.

Dec 20, 1989: The United States invaded Panama and installed a new government but failed to capture General Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Dec 20, 1860: South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.

More events from This Day in History: Dec 20

Dec 19, 1843: Charles Dickens published "A Christmas Carol."

Dec 19, 1946: War broke out in Indochina when Ho Chi Minh attacked the French.

Dec 19, 1732: Benjamin Franklin began publishing Poor Richard's Almanac.

More events from This Day in History: Dec 19

Dec 19, 1865: Slavery was abolished with the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Dec 19, 1956: Japan was admitted to the United Nations.

Dec 19, 1737: Violin maker Antonio Stradivari died in Cremona, Italy.

More events from This Day in History: Dec 19

Dec 17, 1903: Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first flight in a heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Dec 17, 1777: France recognized American independence.

Dec 17, 1944: The U.S. Army announced the end of its policy of holding Japanese-Americans in internment camps, allowing "evacuees" to return home.

More events from This Day in History: Dec 17

Dec 16, 1653: Oliver Cromwell became lord protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Dec 16, 1773: The Boston Tea Party took place.

Dec 16, 1920: One of the deadliest earthquakes in history hit the Gansu province in China. The 8.6 quake killed 200,000 people.

More events from This Day in History: Dec 16

Dec 15, 1939: The movie Gone With the Wind premiered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dec 15, 1944: Band leader Glenn Miller disappeared in a plane crash over the English Channel.

Dec 15, 1961: Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death by an Israeli court for organizing the deportation of Jews to concentration camps.

More events from This Day in History: Dec 15

Dec 14, 1819: Alabama became the 22nd state in the United States.

Dec 14, 1967: DNA synthesized for the first time.

Dec 14, 1799: George Washington died at age 67.

More events from This Day in History: Dec 14

Dec 13, 1918: President Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first U.S. president to visit Europe while in office.

Dec 13, 1978: The U.S. Mint began stamping the Susan B. Anthony dollar, the first U.S. coin honoring a woman.

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